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Platonic Review: Rose Byrne And Seth Rogen Are A Great Hang

  • Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen are indispensable
  • The rest of the cast is great
  • The show lets Byrne and Rogen explore all parts of their characters
  • There isn’t anything especially groundbreaking here

The Apple TV+ series "Platonic" has little in common with the movie "When Harry Met Sally" for one key reason, but that doesn't stop one of the members of its core platonic couple from name-checking it as an example of a movie that proves men and women can be friends. Yes, he conveniently forgets that Harry and Sally get together at the end. There's no danger of that happening with Seth Rogen's Will and Rose Byrne's Sylvia, though — they're a man and woman who genuinely love each other as friends and nothing more.

The sitcom starts when Sylvia, who has three children with the attractive Charlie (Luke Macfarlane), calls Will for coffee after five years. The pair stopped being friends after Sylvia insulted Will's soon-to-be wife. Now he's gotten a divorce, so she decides to try to reconnect. Their first attempt at a coffee shop doesn't go so well. They both lie and try to put a positive spin on their lives. But when she goes to the bar where he's Brewmaster and witnesses him fighting with his ex-wife, she's there to provide solace ... and fun.

This begins a period of time where they lean on each other for support, especially in their worst moments. She encourages him to get his stuff from his ex-wife's house and make a clean break, he encourages her to ditch the fixer-upper house she's thinking about buying for her family and to generally have more fun. But that doesn't mean other aspects of their lives are ignored. Macfarlane, Carla Gallo as Sylvia's friend Katie, and Tre Hall and Andrew Lopez as Will's partners Andy and Reggie, respectively, all get time to flesh out their characters too.

This is especially true of Macfarlane, who other shows might have made the villain in the situation with Sylvia and Will. "Platonic," though, depicts his character as confused and slightly desperate about it. For example, he asks Will to go to a Dodgers game with him in a misguided attempt to get him to hang out and makes him "Lady and the Tramp" a Dodgers dog to show he's fine with Will's relationship with his wife. It's kind of sad and very funny all at the same time.

Rogen and Byrne are fun to hang out with

All of this works because Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are so much fun to hang out with. The pair played a married couple in co-creator Nicholas Stoller's "Neighbors," and he directs them to even greater glory here. In lesser hands the material wouldn't work nearly as well, but Rogen and Byrne find abundant layers to their characters. They also have their unlikeable moments too, but that just makes their characters feel more real.

"Insidious" star Byrne, in particular, has never been so good as a middle-aged mother with her own issues to work out. She uncovers all the sides of her character, including the ugly side. When she eats (yes, eats) Charlie's boss' speech at a conference because he won't remember her name, she gets to be biting, obnoxious, and charming all at once. Byrne's also great at physical comedy, and things like Sylvia accidentally snorting ketamine and forgetting how to walk or taking a pot gummy with Will and speaking with a mouth full of fries are great bits.

Meanwhile, Rogen has managed to find more mature and nuanced roles lately where he can stay true to himself while still showing more of what he can do, and that's especially true of "Platonic." Through it all, the two of them are experts at commanding the screen and exploring all aspects of this scenario.

Can men and women ever really be platonic?

Over the course of the show, "Platonic" doesn't ask whether men and women can truly be platonic — a notion it blows past in the first episode — but whether their friends and significant others can believe it. The show points out that at various times everyone in Will and Sylvia's lives, especially the lawyers at Charlie's job, believe that the pair are sleeping together. That puts a strain on Charlie even if the strain is unfounded, and proves Sylvia's point that men and women aren't friends at their age unless they're part of a couple.

Ultimately though, Will and Sylvia come together at a time when they both need some extra help. She's attempting to go back to work after a long time away with disastrous (but hilarious) results, and she needs someone more screwed up than her to make her feel good about the path she's on. He's attempting to get back into the dating world after years out of the game and to take his bar in a different direction than his partners would like, and he needs someone to tell him it can be done.

Neither of them is feeling too good about themselves and they rely on each other in the face of these indignities. While Sylvia leans on her husband for a lot of things, she feels so much less put together than him that her friendship with Will is a boon. And Will is at such loose ends that he sometimes needs Sylvia's voice of reason to get him to reexamine his priorities.

There's plenty of funny stuff here, but ultimately, the thing we want most from this show is Sylvia and Will to hang out, and that's just what they do. While it's nice to have everyone else filling out the cast, the show wouldn't be the same without its two leads. Nicholas Stoller and his co-creator Francesca Delbanco know the key to getting a show like this right is to cast the right people and "Platonic" delivers the goods. "Platonic" isn't groundbreaking, but Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne make it feel fresh and real.

Three episodes of "Platonic" premiere on Wednesday, May 24 on Apple TV+, with one new episode premiering weekly until July 12.